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Commuting physical activity is favourably associated with biological risk factors for cardiovascular disease


Background Little is known about the effects of commuting physical activity on biological cardiovascular risk factors although such knowledge may form an important basis for interventions aimed at reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) by increasing physical activity. We examined the associations between commuting, leisure time and total physical activity and biological risk factors for CVD. Design A cross-sectional study of men and women, who participated in a health screening programme. Methods The study population comprised persons aged 30–60 years from a population-based random sample, response rate 53% (n = 6,906). Weight, height, waist circumference and blood pressure were measured and blood samples were collected. Physical activity was assessed by a self-administered questionnaire. Results Time spent on commuting, leisure time and total physical activity was positively associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and negatively associated with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, waist circumference and body mass index. Time spent on total physical activity was negatively associated with total cholesterol and diastolic blood pressure. Among men there was no relationship between time spent on physical activity and systolic blood pressure. Time spent on commuting physical activity and total physical activity was negatively associated with systolic blood pressure among women. Conclusion Commuting physical activity, independent of leisure time physical activity, was associated with a healthier level of most of the cardiovascular risk factors. An increase in commuting physical activity in the population may therefore reduce the incidence of CVD.

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Cardiovascular disease


High-density lipoprotein


Low-density lipoprotein


Blood pressure


Body mass index


Food frequency questionnaire


Energy percentage


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We thank the participants in the Inter99 study and staff from the Research Centre for Prevention and Health. Steering committee of the Inter99 study: Torben Jørgensen, DMSc, Knut Borch-Johnsen, DMSc, Hans Ibsen, DMSc, Troels Thomsen, Ph.D, Charlotta Pisinger, PhD and Charlotte Glümer, PhD.

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Correspondence to Lisa von Huth Smith.

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von Huth Smith, L., Borch-Johnsen, K. & Jørgensen, T. Commuting physical activity is favourably associated with biological risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Eur J Epidemiol 22, 771–779 (2007).

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  • Exercise
  • Epidemiology
  • Prevention
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Risk factors